I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings College

In I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou uses the settings and people of her childhood to illustrate the development of her moral and social outlook on life. During this time in her life, she is moved from place to place and from family to family. It is this exposure to different ways of life that help Maya decide what kind of person she is going to be.

Religion is a major facet of Maya’s development in Stamps. Reverend Thomas, the presiding elder over the district that Momma’s church is in, comes to visit Stamps every three months. When he comes to town Momma always puts him up for the night and feeds him. Even though the family does not care for him much, Momma is still obliged to do this. It is her Christian duty, so Momma never questions fulfilling this obligation.

Momma is the most direct source of Maya’s spiritual upbringing. She is the keeper of divine law for the Henderson family. Whenever she witnesses a spiritual infraction, her punishment is swift and thorough. These punishments are not dealt out of spite, but out of concern for Maya’s eternal soul. Momma’s lessons are meant to keep Maya on the narrow road to the afterlife, the only true way for the black man to overcome his...

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